The Swinging City of Axalalail

Discussion on game mastering Earthdawn. May contain spoilers; caution is recommended!
Tattered Rags
Posts: 370
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:04 am

Re: The Swinging City of Axalalail

Post by Tattered Rags » Fri Mar 15, 2019 2:22 am

Slimcreeper wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 2:02 am
What's the t'skrang word for spirit? jik'karah or something? maybe work that into the name? What about Flying Bind?
And some particularly crazy T'skrang like to do the Flying Bind flying blind, wearing cloth over their eyes during the attempt. Only one has ever succeeded, and she's been accused of cheating.
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

Bonhumm
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Location: Right behind you

Re: The Swinging City of Axalalail

Post by Bonhumm » Fri Mar 15, 2019 2:57 am

The 'Terror in the skies' adventure includes a section about a game/competition called 'Hull Jumping' that sounds a lot like what you are describing. I would suggest you take a look at it for further ideas and rules guidelines.

As for the town itself, I thought of the following:

The windling clan living in Axalalail faces an unusual issue: competition for airspace. The dozens of t’skrang airborne at any given time represent a major flight hazard for the windlings as the difference in mass between both races means catastrophic consequences in case of collision. Over the years the windlings and their larger neighbors came up with two solutions:

First, the windling living quarters have the peculiarity of being situated at a lower level than the rest of the town. The airspace around their residences, while still being high enough in the trees to provide protection against most land-based predators, are therefore ‘swing-free’ to assure a safe flying environment for the younger and older flying folks.

Also, a few months ago, a passing Questor of Upendal came up with an idea to increase safety; she designed a copper whistle and attached it to the base of a swinging rope. The air that rushes through the whistle as the rope is swinging around creates a shrill noise that serve as a warning to anyone in the air nearby. The residents eagerly copied the design and attached a whistle to every single swinging rope in existence. Each whistle being slightly different from each other, people began to name specific ropes based on their sounds, using the name of birds with a similar sounding calls (like the Eagle screech rope between one of the most popular tavern in town and the harbor) or sometime just the name of the appropriate music key (like the D-Sharp rope that connects the local temple of Garlen to the Trading Court).

Tattered Rags
Posts: 370
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:04 am

Re: The Swinging City of Axalalail

Post by Tattered Rags » Sat Dec 05, 2020 4:13 pm

I'm nethering this thread because my players returned to Axalalail and finally attempted the Flying Bind. It was fun as the windling wagered against other players as they attempted different heights. They were killing time while the scholars at the small library did some research for them.

The basic rules for Flying Bind are earlier in this post, so I won't rehash them here. However I will say that some adjustments are in order. One, I told the players that you can select from six different platforms, each 10 feet higher than the next, ranging from 50 ft up to 100 ft. This would set the risk as falls should be based on the height fallen. Then you select which rope length you want to use, which is 10 to 30 feet shorter than the platform height. What I didn't think was to adjust the reward money, so I'd add the height to the rope length before multiplying by extra successes on the dex-based role.

Something I DID do was lower the required number of extra successes on the strength role from 3 to 2 to make it more reasonable. And I allowed creative uses of talents, but the first roll is strength-based and the second is dexterity-based, so whatever talent you use, you add the appropriate attribute regardless of what the talent typically uses.

With these modifications, rope lengths range from 20 feet to 90 feet. Difficulties for the first roll range from 3 (20/15 * 2, round up) to 12 just to hang on and 13 to 22 to actually make it in reach of the netting. Difficulties for letting go of the rope and grabbing the netting range from 4 to 18 just to grab it, but prize money isn't earned unless you get at least one extra success on a rope from the 60 foot or higher platform. Prize money can range from 90 silver pieces (1 extra success, 30 foot rope, 60 foot platform) to 570 silver pieces (3 extra successes, 90 foot rope, 100 foot platform).

Three of my players attempted this. The first used climbing on his strength roll, and managed to just barely hang on. The second used great leap for the strength roll (I figured, why not? and justified it with increasing his initial momentum so he wouldn't have to be holding on quite as long), and also just barely hung on. The third used tiger spring (which isn't normally added to a stat, but I allowed it) and rolled a nice 23, but without a relevant talent for helping with transitioning to the netting, he missed grabbing it by just 1. His fingers brushed the netting and he slipped passed it into the nets designed to catch falling participants.

One player commented this seemed like a carnival attraction that you can't win, but with karma, anything is possible!

Earlier the players also explored Balen's Burrow (thanks, Slimcreeper!). I'll share the descriptions of its interior some time soon, likely in this thread since I already nethered it, so others can steal shamelessly.
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

Tattered Rags
Posts: 370
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:04 am

Re: The Swinging City of Axalalail

Post by Tattered Rags » Sat Dec 05, 2020 4:13 pm

I'm nethering this thread because my players returned to Axalalail and finally attempted the Flying Bind. It was fun as the windling wagered against other players as they attempted different heights. They were killing time while the scholars at the small library did some research for them.

The basic rules for Flying Bind are earlier in this post, so I won't rehash them here. However I will say that some adjustments are in order. One, I told the players that you can select from six different platforms, each 10 feet higher than the next, ranging from 50 ft up to 100 ft. This would set the risk as falls should be based on the height fallen. Then you select which rope length you want to use, which is 10 to 30 feet shorter than the platform height. What I didn't think was to adjust the reward money, so I'd add the height to the rope length before multiplying by extra successes on the dex-based role.

Something I DID do was lower the required number of extra successes on the strength role from 3 to 2 to make it more reasonable. And I allowed creative uses of talents, but the first roll is strength-based and the second is dexterity-based, so whatever talent you use, you add the appropriate attribute regardless of what the talent typically uses.

With these modifications, rope lengths range from 20 feet to 90 feet. Difficulties for the first roll range from 3 (20/15 * 2, round up) to 12 just to hang on and 13 to 22 to actually make it in reach of the netting. Difficulties for letting go of the rope and grabbing the netting range from 4 to 18 just to grab it, but prize money isn't earned unless you get at least one extra success on a rope from the 60 foot or higher platform. Prize money can range from 90 silver pieces (1 extra success, 30 foot rope, 60 foot platform) to 570 silver pieces (3 extra successes, 90 foot rope, 100 foot platform).

Three of my players attempted this. The first used climbing on his strength roll, and managed to just barely hang on. The second used great leap for the strength roll (I figured, why not? and justified it with increasing his initial momentum so he wouldn't have to be holding on quite as long), and also just barely hung on. The third used tiger spring (which isn't normally added to a stat, but I allowed it) and rolled a nice 23, but without a relevant talent for helping with transitioning to the netting, he missed grabbing it by just 1. His fingers brushed the netting and he slipped passed it into the nets designed to catch falling participants.

One player commented this seemed like a carnival attraction that you can't win, but with karma, anything is possible!

Earlier the players also explored Balen's Burrow (thanks, Slimcreeper!). I'll share the descriptions of its interior some time soon, likely in this thread since I already nethered it, so others can steal shamelessly.
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

Tattered Rags
Posts: 370
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:04 am

Re: The Swinging City of Axalalail

Post by Tattered Rags » Sat Dec 05, 2020 4:33 pm

Balen's Burrow:
I'm copy-pasting directly from my notes. Lonoko Icegarden is an elementalist friend the players met and helped a month (in game) or so prior to this, and she offered to give them a tour, even though the Burrow was closed off to outsiders due to a theft that happened a two months ago. "Balen's Dowsing Rod" was stolen, and no one could figure out how the thief got in. With excellent rolls by the Scout, and immediately looking in the exact right spot, the players discovered how the thief got in. That said, here's the various things I read to them.
Wandering through Axalalail, trees incorporated into the construction is a common sight. Some simply being anchored to trees while others incorporated trees more organically into the design. Balen's Burrow doesn't appear to be built on a tree but instead it is inside a large specimen, perhaps the largest in the area. Windows spiral up and down its trunk, and an ornate door leads in from this platform. Despite the numerous holes cut, the tree still appears to be alive, even thriving. Two Namegivers flank the door, one a dwarf armed to the teeth, the other on elf wearing simple robes.
Here, one of the guards spoke into a tube next to the door and eventually summoned Lonoko (who took awhile due to the long walk).
As you enter the tree, the air smells fresh, even fresher than forest air outside, and the walls gleam like polished stone despite being the tan color of a cut tree. A narrow staircase spirals away from you up and down with light spilling from windows in either direction, the stairs themselves either perfectly carved or grown from the tree, slightly rough so you don't slip, and barely wide enough for two orks to walk side-by-side. Lonoko begins the counter-clockwise descent down, "The main entrance is actually on the forest floor, and most of the rooms are underground. Upstairs are experiment platforms, most open-air, though we've hardened the air around them to protect the city. But Balen's Dowsing Rod was stored down this way."
As you descend, you quickly see through the many windows that you've past below the main levels of Axalalail and are approaching the ground level. Between each window are wooden sconces holding light quartz. Once you have to shift to one side as a portly dwarf attempts to squeeze passed. You pass two other doorways, one of which is open and leads out onto a small platform with a handful of Namegivers talking quietly. Quick snippets of conversation you hear suggest some arcane elemental topics. Lonoko briefly slows down as you pass, ear cocked to eavesdrop, but then she picks up speed again. Finally, the staircase begines to widen, and Lonoko says, "We're about to reach the Antechamber."
Soon after, you reach the bottom of the stairs and a simple set of doors, wide open. Beyond is a tall, wide room, a delicate chandalier hangs from the ceiling, like everything else made from wood with crystals and gems of many types dangling from it. Light quartz shine brightly, cascading the room in a riot of color. Small tables and rugs are set about the room, but the floor is left mostly bare, concentric rings spreading out from the center. Directly opposite the stairwell are massive double-doors big enough for several trolls to comfortably walk through together. Symbols are etched across the entire surface of the polished wood. A couple of robed figures are conversing off to one side, briefly glancing at you as you enter.
"This way," Lonoko says, and turns left immediately after entering the room and opens a pair of doors set in the wall next to the ones you just went through. More stairs greet you, heading further down. "Not much further to the main level!" She leads you down one more flight of stairs, which headed down with no turns, the end not far away. After traveling at least two Troll heights down, the staircase opens onto a wide, circular hallway, brightly lit by light quartz. The floor is a wooden walkway. The walls are smooth, and upon closer inspection are revealed to be tightly packed dirt. Lonoko says, "And here's Balen's Burrow! It used to be the root system of the sister to the tree we just left, but Balen asked it to move away as they were killing each other. We reinforced the walls with magic we renew every year. Well, not me, I'm still a new member of this particular guild."
She begins leading you further in, sometimes taking branching tunnels. You get the sense that the passage leads gently but constantly down, but soon you're fairly well lost. <SCOUT MIGHT NOT BE LOST> You pass people frequently, generally robed but a few are more martial, carrying themselves as Warriors. Most wave hello to Lonoko or give you dirty looks, a few simply ignore your group. At random intervals, round doors are set into the walls, curving wood matching the shape of the earth. Lonoko points out various ones, "This is a classroom. Oh, Frenaldo stays here. This lab is often on fire."
Eventually you turn down a short tunnel, which rapidly narrows to the point that Boris has to duck a little. The tunnel end is abrupt, blocked by a mass of dirt. At your approach, the dirt begins to shift, emitting a deep rumble you feel in your chest. Lonoko tells you, "That's just an earth elemental set here to guard the artifact room. Should have had him there a month ago! But, no! 'No one can break in to the Burrow!'" She sighs heavily and shakes her head. She speaks to the spirit, "Out of the way, Brynochus!" and waves her hand. The massive thing rumbles in a way you feel shows discontent, but it slowly slides into the wall leaving no impression that it was ever there. Beyond it lies a simple door, made of metal and lacking any sort of handle. Lonoko strides up to it and waves hand, muttering something, and a soft 'click' echoes lightly in the hall.
The door here has to be unlocked with a Elementalism test and speaking the proper passphrase, which hadn't been changed in awhile.
Notes on the vault and it's contents:
Door unlocked by weaving a thread with Elementalism while mutter the phrase.
Eight display cases of different sizes sit throughout the room, near the walls. The circular chamber is covered in eight tapestries depicting the 5 True elements, Orichalcum, and the elemental planes. Each tapestry is centered behind a dsiplay case, their edges just barely not touching each other.
Magic items in display cases, from immediately left of the door and around the room clockwise

Wings of Pericle: Metal wings fashioned from dozens of blades of varying lengths and connected to leather straps, which look like they could fit anyone from a dwarf up to an Obsidiman.
- Permanent Metal Wings spell that can allow even an Obsidiman to fly
- Allows for a swooping attack
- Presumably you can throw blades
Periapt of the Plane of Fire: Small red broach which feels hot, even from a foot away. Scorch marks mar the surface of the metal stand holding it upright in its glass box.
- Immunity to heat and flames
- Said to allow user to walk through lava
- Dangerous, as previous wearers have busrt into flames and instantly consumed if worn too long
- Houses a fire elemental spirit
- "We don't usually use the same element to protect against itself, but somehow this item's creator did it!"
empty (Balen's Dowsing Rod)
- Had better chance of detecting True elements
- Made mining True elements easier, drawing them forth like a magnet
- True elements mined with it tended to be of the purest quality
Windchaser: Miniature airship with "Windchaser" emblazoned on it, floats inside a bottle, and is about the length of an open human hand
- Not sure what it is, but clearly magical
- Conjecture that it is either a major pattern item for the real Windchaser (whatever that is) or a magical knicknack
- AIR SAILOR feels a connection to it, but can't deduce anything from that connection (they've had Air Sailors look at it before to no benefit!)
Seed of Renewal: A tiny brown, striated seed resting in an indent on a cushion inside it's display case. A drawing set on an easel next to the case depicts the seed and details of a kernel of True Wood, showing similarities and differences.
- Single seed said to grow a garden miles in diameter from where it is planted
- Conjectured that it could even cure the Wastes west of Jerris or the Badlands west of Travar
- Only have the one, so no one is willing to experiment
Balen's Coin: a simple Orichalcum coin, rubbed smooth on both sides, set upright on display
- Orichalcum coin used for the Ghost Master ritual to summon and train with Balen the Elementalist
- Only works with Balen
- Causes him to be favorably disposed toward the user
- While training, increases Elementalism and Spellcasting of the one who ties a thread to it and is training
- Spell Matrix: increases effect step of Elementalist spells cast from it
Earthenworks: Ornately crafted, it is a work of beauty, with silver inlays set in a wooden heater, suggesting the shape of a tower or fort, and woven throughout with True earth, True wood, and Orichalcum
- Shield from before the Scourge said to have been enchanted by an Elementalist who was also a Questor of Upandal, the Passion of building and crafting
- Shield is said to be unbreakable and places itself between its bearer and harm
- Slamming the shield into the ground causes a tower to spring from the ground around the shield, though it is thought Questors of Upandal can create a massive fort
- Removing the shield from the ground causes the tower to crumble within minutes
Toothpick: Small twig, slightly bent, about the thickness of a thumb, and no more than six inches long, bark and toothmarks
- Chewing on this piece of wood for a few minutes provides an equivalent of a multi-course meal, and even improves healing
- Aromas and delightful tastes almost assault your senses, one after the other, but always different and complementary to each other
- Created by the Elementalist Ghi Firey, who often spoke of this item taking him to "Flavortown", wherever that is
- No one has yet determined if there is some teleportation or planar travel capabilities in Toothpick, though since Ghi's time people have debated the possibility of the "Elemental Plane of Flavor"
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

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